You know I love a good focaccia, and the beauty of this recipe is you can consider it your "base" focaccia recipe. There are a million variations you can make (Focaccia with Rosemary and Shallots being a good one!), so feel free to experiment with whatever sounds good to you!
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If you've never made bread before, focaccia is a great place to start. There is minimal kneading, and really no shaping needed. The only thing you will need is patience, as it does take time to rise. So grab this for your weekend bake, get started in the morning, and then you'll have fresh focaccia to enjoy in the afternoon or with your dinner!
Making focaccia is very easy, and the ingredients are staples that you likely have on hand in your kitchen.
- Active dry yeast: the very first step is to combine the warm water with honey and sprinkle the yeast on top. After 5 minutes, your yeast should be foamy. If it is not, your yeast is dead. You'll need to throw it away and start over with a fresh yeast (if your yeast is dead, the bread will not rise, so stop right here to get fresh yeast before you go any further!)
- Honey: this is what we're using to feed the yeast. Yeast needs sugar to activate, but just a little bit!
- All-purpose flour: this is the base of your dough.
- Salt: you'll add a little salt to the dough, but the flaky sea salt for topping is very important. I like to use Maldon Sea Salt for the topping.
- Olive oil: you'll use plenty of olive oil to keep the dough from sticking to the bowl or pan, and then you'll drizzle more on the top of the dough before it bakes. Finally, I like a final drizzle right before serving as well!
- Fresh rosemary: this is one area where you can measure with your heart. I love rosemary and tend to be a bit heavy-handed here, but it's so delicious.
- Shallots: roughly two shallots will be enough to spread evenly across the top of the dough. Cut the shallots in half and then thinly slice so they're nice, bite-size pieces to top the dough.
See the full recipe below for detailed instructions.
The most important key to baking focaccia is patience. There are two rises, and they are both incredibly important. If you rush the rising, your dough will not be as light, fluffy, and bubbly as it could be. So buckle in and let the dough rise!
After the first rise, the dough will be very fluffy. Use a spatula to scrape around the outside of the bowl, turning the dough over and deflating it.
Transfer to an oiled 13x9 inch baking pan and cover with a clean, dry dish towel for the second rise. After the second rise, the dough will fill the pan.
Use your fingers to dimple the dough all over. It doesn't need to be perfect!
Drizzle with olive oil and spread the shallots and rosemary across the top. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt before baking.
After that, your dough is ready to bake! Bake 25-35 minutes until golden brown, and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Then remove from the pan and transfer to a cooling rack to cool fully.
Tip: I cannot stress it enough, but letting the dough rise long enough is crucial. If your room is warmer, the dough will rise faster. If your room is cooler, the dough will rise slower. Your rising time will be dependent on your room and the time of year, so be prepared to let something rise longer if it doesn't look like it's all the way there yet!
Variations are one of the best parts of focaccia bread. It's very easy to change up the toppings and have a very different bread. Below are a few of the variations that I like to make:
- Focaccia with Apples & Thyme - instead of the shallots and rosemary, top the focaccia with thinly sliced apples and fresh thyme leaves (and of course, flaky sea salt). This will make a sweeter focaccia.
- Tomato Focaccia - instead of the shallots and rosemary, place thinly sliced tomato with flaky sea salt on top of the dough before it bakes. The tomatoes will roast while the dough is baking in the oven and make a delicious bread! Keep in mind, you want these to be thin tomato slices so the dough doesn't get too wet.
- Focaccia with Garlic & Rosemary - roast a head of garlic in the oven and squeeze the garlic into the dough as you're making it (in the very beginning after you've added the flour). Then top with fresh rosemary and flaky sea salt before baking!
- Everything Bagel Focaccia - play with your seasonings! Instead of shallots and rosemary, generously sprinkle the dough with Everything Bagel Seasoning.
There are so many variations, and if you have one that you love, I'd love to hear about it! Leave a comment below!
I highly recommend using a stand mixer to make the dough (I like to use a KitchenAid 5-Quart Stand Mixer), but you could also do this by hand. Keep in mind that you don't need to knead the dough - you're just mixing long enough that there are no longer any dry spots.
A 13x9 inch baking pan is also necessary (I like this 13x9 inch baking pan from USA Pan). If you use a different size, it will still work, but you'll need to adjust your baking time (longer for a smaller pan as the dough will be deeper, and shorter for a larger pan as the dough will be thinner).
Focaccia can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container. It will dry out (as any bread will), but you can always pop it in the microwave for a few seconds to heat it up and help it soften again. Drizzle with additional olive oil before serving.
You can also freeze focaccia. Once it's fully cooled, cut it into squares and transfer to an airtight, freezer-safe bag. Store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Reheat in the microwave for 30-60 seconds to make it warm and soft again, and drizzle with olive oil before serving.
Keep an eye on your dough. If it looks like it needs to rise longer, regardless of how long it has been rising, let it! Don't feel like just because you "hit the 2-hour mark" that the dough is magically ready. It might not be! Timing will be dependent on the temperature of your room. Rising longer is always better than rising less!
Focaccia with Rosemary and Shallots
- 2 ½ cups warm water
- 2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast about one envelope
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 5 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- ½ cup olive oil divided
- 1 large shallot thinly sliced
- 2-3 Tablespoons fresh rosemary de-stemmed
- flaky sea salt for topping
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine warm water and honey. Sprinkle with yeast. Let sit for 5 minutes, until yeast is foamy (see notes if your yeast is not foaming).
- Add flour and salt and mix until no dry spots remain.
- Brush to coat a large bowl with 2 Tablespoons olive oil. Transfer the dough to the bowl and turn to coat. Cover with lightly greased plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, 2-3 hours.
- Brush a 13x9 inch pan with 2-3 Tablespoons olive oil and set aside.
- After the first rise, use a spatula to scrape around the outside of the bowl and turn the dough over on itself a few times. This will deflate the dough (don't overdo it! 2-3 turns is enough). Transfer the dough to the prepared pan and cover with a clean, dry dish towel. Let rise for 1 ½-2 hours until the dough has completely filled (or very nearly) the entire pan.
- Preheat the oven to 450°F. Lightly oil your hands and press the dough to completely fill the pan, if it hasn't already. Use your fingers to press dimples into the dough all over.
- Drizzle the dough with 2 Tablespoons olive oil, then spread the sliced shallots and rosemary sprigs across the dough. You can lightly press them into the dough, but you don't have to. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt.
- Bake 25-35 minutes or until the focaccia is puffed, golden and crusty. Remove from the oven and drizzle with an additional 1-2 Tablespoons olive oil. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool fully. Slice before serving.